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The College Dictionary

Updated on November 20, 2011

When it comes to college, there is a lot that will be unfamiliar to you. One of the biggest things will be different terms. Words will be thrown at you like "tuition," "FAFSA", and "room and board." But, what exactly does this all mean? Being a college student, these are things youneed to know! But, don't worry! That's what I'm here for!


Pre-College Terms


Academics: College classes.

Acceptance Letters: Those awesome letters you look forward to getting in the mail saying you've been approved to attend that college. In the letter could include deposit dates, scholarships, and contact information.

Athletics: Sports available for you to play in college.

Campus: Property owned by the college, usually where buildings and dorms are located, fields, etc.

Community college: A two year college, usually the cheapest for in-state students.

Commuting: When you live at home, as opposed to on campus, and drive or walk to classes every day.

Deadline: The date when something is due, like an application, essay, etc.

Dorms: Buildings on campus where students can live. Contains residence rooms, bathrooms, laundry rooms, meeting rooms, tv rooms, kitchens, etc.

Early submission: Applying for a college earlier than normal, usually in November or December.

Financial aid: Getting money from schools, banks, and/or the government to help pay for college tuitions.

In state: Students who live in the same state as the college they are applying to or attending.

Loans: Borrowing money from the federal government and banks.

Out of state: Students who live in a different state than the college they are applying to or attending.

Private college: Usually more expensive than a state college. Privately funded, usually through alumni.

Recommendation letters: Letters written by high school teachers for the student in order to apply to a college.

Rejection letter: That letter no one likes to get saying that they have not been accepted to that college.

Scholarship: Money won to pay for college that does not have to be paid back.

State college: A public college, usually funded by the state it is in.

Transcript(s): A document with your history of grades, extracurricular activities, clubs, etc.

Tuition: The basic cost to attend a college. Room and board, books, and fees may be included, but are usually itemized separately.

Undergraduate: Anyone attending a college who has not yet attained their Bachelor's degree.

Waiting list: A list of potential acceptance. The college can't accept any more students, but if an accepted student decides not to go, the first person on the waiting list will get the spot.


In College Terms


Academic probation: Being in danger of getting kicked out of the college due to poor grades.

Advisor: A person who helps you pick out classes and assists you with any of your college questions.

Associate's degree (AS or AA): A two year degree earned at a community college. You can have an AS or AA in almost any major.

Bachelor's degree (BA, BS, some others): A four year degree earned at a private or public college. You may receive a BA (Bachelor of Arts) or a BS (Bachelor of Science) in your major.

Books and supplies: An estimated fee per semester for the books and supplies needed to attend a college and its classes.

Credits: What each class is worth. Most classes are worth 3 credits.

Dean: The head of the college or of a certain area of responsibility at the college.

Doctorate degree (PhD, some others): A degree reflecting about 8 years of post-high school studies.

Fraternity: A group of male students forming a brotherhood, organization, or club.

Internship: A non-paying job meant for you to gain experience, usually in your major.

Lab fees: Fees which may or may not be included in tuition for any labs taken for classes.

Master's degree (MS, MA, some others): A degree reflecting about 6 years of post-high school studies.

Off campus resident: A resident of the college who lives off campus, sometimes in an apartment provided by the college.

Part time: Someone who attends a college and usually gets less than 12 credits a semester (3 classes or fewer).

Registrar: Someone who takes care of applications, transcripts, registration, etc., and maintains a student's personal and academic records.

Registration: The process of picking classes for the next semester.

Room and board: A fee included which may or may not be included in your tuition that covers the cost of living on campus.

Sorority: A group of female students forming a sisterhood, organization, or club.

Study abroad: An opportunity provided by the college to take a semester or year of classes in another country.

Summa cum laude: Receiving the highest academic honors at a college, based on GPA.

Transferring: Moving your credits from one college to another, whether to attend a different college until graduation or just for one class.

Work study programs: Job opportunities provided by the college to help pay for tuition.


Post College


Alumni: Graduates of a college.

GPA (Grade Point Average): The average of all your grades each semester or cumulatively since enrollment.

Grad school: Attending another academic institution after graduating from college.

Graduation: Successfully completing your career at a college.

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